1. Dan's sister and her family left on Weds. We let the big kids skip school Tues so they could have an extra day with their cousins. They were the last of our family to leave (the goodbyes had been trickling for days) and I literally felt nauseous the whole morning they were packing to leave. I drove them to NYC so the extra few hours of chat time helped mitigate it, but I felt physically sick the rest of the day. Goodbyes and living so far apart... it just sucks. Favorite memories of the week include family hikes, playing games (Balderdash and Ticket to Ride). Seeing Corey enthusiastically help Will program his Mindstorm Legos. Time out for coffee for just Miriam and I. Staying up late talking every night. Dan and his mom building adirondack chairs together. Several family ATV adventures. The cousins unexpectedly "camping out" in the attic every night. Seeing Olivia and Eva "playing house" together for hours and hours. Making amazing desserts every night, because... why not? Getting to sit back and bask in the satisfaction I feel from having a house full of family, everyone laughing and talking and loving and eating and sharing and being together. I am so blessed, and I never feel it more than when I am surrounded by a dozen people who love me and with whom I can laugh and grow old. This to me is truly the best thing in the world.
2. I've been doing a decent amount of spring cleaning and decluttering this week. We have a big house and don't really buy "stuff" that frequently... but it is amazing how much junk we can collect without even trying to! Every year I tote bags of stuff off to Salvation Army, give bags of hand me downs to friends, and throw so much additional stuff away. So much stuff. It makes me a little crazy and I go on a binge, getting rid of it. My kids are lucky I find decluttering and organizing therapeutic. ;)
3. Race. In the years since adopting Olivia, I've become much more aware of race, especially in the last 6 months or so. She has periodically asked me "why aren't any of the people that live in [our neigjborhood] brown?" and "why aren't any of my friends brown? I wish I was tan so I could be like you guys and my friends." Of course this is heartbreaking and of course we rave over her beautiful skin and hair every chance we get. I've also been known to leave magazines open to pages showing black models... Just saying. But all this doesn't change the fact that, even though we go to a mostly-black church, her daily life is almost all white. And she notices ...and wishes it was different. I'm brainstorming ways to make this better for her, but in the meantime, I'm hyper-aware of the issue. Tonight I was at a fundraiser for the CYC, a local charity that runs after school programs for at-risk kids-- a great program and a worthy cause. It was held at the local "members only" club, and out of the 230 attendees, there was one --ONE-- person of color, a beautiful young black woman. I wanted to go up to her and say -- "I'm so sorry. I know it's completely, annoyingly white in here. I know you are well aware that you are the only black person here and I'm sorry. I wish it was different." The serving staff was more diverse-- I noticed people of Asian decent as well as Latinos. It made me sad for Olivia, that one day she will likely find herself at a similar event with a similar dynamic. Will she wonder why everyone who looks like her is serving food? Will she be angry that there's so little representation in the attendees of people of color? Maybe things will have changed by then... I sure hope so.
4. This is getting long and I'm only halfway through. Geesh. My sister Emily is flying back to the US from her home in Rwanda on April 29. She's due to have her first baby (a boy!) on May 28 and she has to fly before 36 weeks. I'm so excited to see her and to welcome a new baby into the family. I'm personally so glad to be done with the baby years, but equally SO excited that my sister is starting them and I get to be the aunt! Yay! Hallie is excited because 1) she's a baby freak but 2) she is convinced that one of her name ideas is the one they went with.. Haha. And Olivia is excited because the baby will be brown like her.
5. While April looks like a fairly quiet month, May is shaping up to be an exciting one. Abby graduates from her gap year program in CO, Anna graduates with her BSN, Emily graduates with her Masters (first in the family!) ...We have Emily's baby shower and her baby, of course. So exciting all around.
6. Speaking of April being boring, the kids have no half/full days off this month and although Hallie's bday is the 20th, she has PSSA testing that week and can't even take off on her birthday. She's asking for a loft bed for her bday, which means I'm scoping out the ones at IKEA. Which means while I'm at IKEA, I can pop over to REI. My divided just came this week and I'm very excited. There's not much more exciting to me than a trip to REI. :)
7. Hallie's flute recital is tomorrow afternoon. She is not even stressed. Today Will competed with his scout troop in a first aid competency thing at a local college. (Who schedules anything at 8am on a Saturday morning?!) Olivia starts gymnastics on Weds. ...Just another week in paradise. :)